No to terrorism: Make moderation 'sexy' to draw youngsters

No to terrorism: Make moderation 'sexy' to draw youngsters

KUALA LUMPUR - Discourses on moderation should be made "sexy" to entice the younger generation to embrace the idea and prevent them from being attracted to militant groups.

Global Movement of Moderates Foundation chief executive officer Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the idea of moderation did not seem appealing to younger people, who feel that being a rebel is "sexy."

He said terrorist or militant groups reached out more easily to the younger generation these days, as there was something "attractive" in the manner of recruitment.

"These groups say that it is a just cause, secondly, the only way is to do things the way they do, as other measures have failed, for example, the Palestine-Israel struggle.

"Thirdly, these groups will claim they are more successful compared with previous movements and celebrate by beheading people and so on.

"The challenge now is, how do we establish a counter-narrative to such ideas?

Saifuddin was a panellist at the "No to terrorism, extremists and terrorism: How should moderates respond" discussion held here Thursday night.

Other panellists included Julia Sveshnikova from the Islamic Renaissance Front (IFR) and Ahmad El Mohammady from the Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement (Abim).

Ahmad said militant groups such as Islamic State (IS) were recruiting young women by getting them attracted to the image of men fighting for a religious cause, and projecting it as something appealing and sexy.

Sveshnikova said there was a need to unmask the illusion and "romance" around such militant groups.

"We need to be more sober and deeper on the things we teach, for example, why aren't there enough discourses on who these people are, these terrorists and how profitable is it for these leaders and the recruiters?

"So we try to unmask this illusion," said Sveshnikova.

Ahmad said militant groups such as IS easily recruited young people using modern technology and promoting their ideologies in a creative and attractive manner.

"They have experts packaging messages, like the game Flame of Wars, the IS took that game and created a movie and propaganda out of it by using effective messages and sound.

"Similarly, we need to package the message of moderation and present it to society, especially the younger generation, in a suitable manner," said Ahmad.

Saifuddin said the majority of Malaysians were silent moderates who needed to speak up and reclaim the ideas such as jihad (the Islamic struggle) from extremist interpretations.

"We need to reclaim the centre and try to explain the true meaning of jihad and the term 'Islamic state'.

"We need to try to make these moderate ideas the norm rather than the exception in public discourse," he said.

The panellists agreed that a systematic and national approach was needed, involving all stakeholders and not just security agencies and the Government, to combat extremism and terrorism.

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